Scooping yet another accolade from the Civic Trust to add to the 20-plus awards already won, the massive £547 million transformation of the Grade I Listed King’s Cross Station in London continues to earn recognition for excellence in design, construction and conservation.
The project, which commenced in 1998 and was completed in 2012, was carried out for Network Rail, with John McAslan + Partners as architects and masterplanners. Leading contractors included: Tata Steel Projects, Arup, Laing O’Rourke/Costain JV, Carillion, Vinci Construction UK, Kier Rail and Osborne.
The scheme involved the creation of an exemplary, multi-modal transport hub, connecting to St Pancras, London Underground, Thameslink, buses and taxis, and involved consultations with more than 20 stakeholders, and co-ordination between multi-contractor teams over a period of 15 years.
A major challenge was to introduce modern services into a Grade 1-listed railway station. This was achieved through careful research; complete understanding of the site and its environs, extensive consultation with statutory authorities and thorough assessment of options. The transformation involved three very different styles of architecture: re-use, restoration and new build.
The Civic Trust Awards scheme recognises the very best in architecture, design, planning, landscape and public art. Awards are given to projects that demonstrate high quality architecture or design, have demonstrated sustainability, are accessible to all users and have made a positive cultural, social or economic contribution to the local community.
According to the Civic Trust, the King’s Cross project: “Excellently illustrates a wide range of repair, conservation, restoration and new intervention to rejuvenate and up-grade the original structures and spaces, enabling the station buildings and its termini to continue in its use as originally intended. It is an excellent demonstration of the conservation of historic fabric complemented with new contemporary design and innovation.”
Katherine Watts, Lead Architect for the scheme at John McAslan + Partners said: “The project has won over 20 awards – with the Civic Trust recognition being particularly prestigious and a good one to win. It has been amazing – although I was only one person working on the project and recognition must go to the whole team. This project has won more awards that any other I have worked on.
“What was really unusual about the project was the combination of really strong new architecture with very thorough conservation of the grade 1 listed station building. It was also good to have a situation where English Heritage and the conservation authorities were willing to allow such an extensive change to a listed building. Normally such buildings tend to be museums, but in this case we were working on an operational railway station where functionality is important, so more changes were allowed than we would normally expect.
“One of the most challenging aspects of the project was to get the balance right between original and new build elements. In a conservational scheme such as this, great effort was needed to ensure that one element did not dominate the other – and I think we managed to achieve this.
“One of my favourite things about the scheme is the way the new architecture enables the historic building to be used the way it was originally intended. The previous station concourse had shifted the entrance and the emphasis of the building to the south, whereas the historic entrance was to the west – and we were able to reinstate the historic route through the building.
“It was a really good project to work on with a great team. Although challenging, it was also very interesting and hopefully we have produced a good result.”
Tata Steel Projects
Tata Steel Projects (TSP) is a market leading multi-disciplinary solutions business that provides a full range of services, from consultancy, design and engineering to manufacture, installation and onsite project management. As a principal railway infrastructure provider, Tata Steel Projects has an influential role in the design and operation of the UK rail network with 20 years engineering design experience working with organisations associated with the heavy rail industry in the UK.
Network Rail has undertaken a £550 million redevelopment project for King’s Cross Station, which more than doubled the capacity of the station, used by 47 million passengers a year. Tata Steel Projects oversaw several parts of this major restoration work.
The firm designed a replacement for the 1893 Handyside ‘Harry Potter’ footbridge, to provide a sec-ond platform access point from the new concourse to all platforms and meet the needs of disabled passengers. This visually unobtrusive bridge was designed to facilitate construction, with a minimum of disruption to train services, and was modelled using specialist state-of-the-art finite element modelling software and hardware to check the effects of natural frequency and footfall response. The old bridge was carefully dismantled and donated to the Watercress Line Heritage Railway, where it will cross the tracks at Ropley, Hampshire.
Tata Steel Projects also designed the restoration of the station’s double barrel roof, including complete reglazing, relighting, and the installation of “beer mat” solar panels. Our design both preserved the listed roof and added to its functionality by incorporating blastproof glass and renewable energy generation.
Finally, we designed the new Platform 0 under the station’s Eastern Range buildings, reconstructed Platforms 1 to 8, and modified Platforms 5 to 8 to provide space for the new departures concourse. Our design for Platform 0, integrating the platform’s slab track and impact wall, allowed us to fit a new platform into a small space without substantially affecting the surrounding historic buildings.